RICHMOND, Va. (AP) _ The Virginia Senate has approved legislation that would recognize and regulate short-term rental websites like Airbnb. The measure allows Virginia homeowners to rent out all or part of their homes and establish procedures for the rental websites to pay local taxes. Supporters of the measure, including Airbnb, said short-term rentals were already operating in the Virginia and the legislation would help boost tax revenue. Opponents of the measure said it would improperly usurp power from local governments to regulate short-term rental companies, while also hurting the state’s hospitality industry. A similar measure has already passed the House.
Airbnb, the online platform founded in 2008 that allows property owners to rent out rooms, apartments and houses to travelers seeking short-term stays, is moving closer to becoming legal and regulated throughout Virginia.
n 2015, there were 133,000 Airbnb stays in Virginia, according to the company, an increase of 160 percent from the year before. There are currently 4,100 Airbnb hosts in the state, according to the company, with an average age of 43 and typical earnings from Airbnb of about $4,400 per year.
Airbnb has met resistance from the hotel industry; during Thursday’s Town Council meeting, Councilman Chris Bannon, owner of the Seagate B&B, also voiced displeasure at the possible infiltration of Airbnb into Cape Charles. What this means, is that now every home in Cape Charles is now a B&B, minus the second ‘B’. So, folks that just want to rent a room for one night, or five, can find homes in town that are registered on the Airbnb website.
The hospitality industry and some local governments have called on Virginia lawmakers to beef up accountability measures for Airbnb operators in the bills moving through the legislature.